Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bye Bye, Baby!!

We’re outta here!!

We’re off to the beach for ten days.

How cool is that!

I wonder if an oyster just said to its neighbor…
Oh hell, they’re on their way.
We need to get out of here . NOW.
Too late!!!!

Pompano and red snapper are packing their little bags .And the Shrimp family put the rent to own sign on their little area and running to catch a fast ride to elsewhere.

Cause we are on the way, babay!!!

Posting will continue as the list of what is headed south in various cars reads like a wish list for a gourmet grocery!

You would think we were headed to Timbuktu instead of the Gulf of Mexico.

But, there you go.

Have food will travel!

Stay tuned!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Rose Levy Berenbaum's Hearth Bread

I made bread.

Good bread.

Edible. Not a doorstop.

Made Groom smile.

Made me smile. Made the house smell like a bakery.

And it was easy. There wasn’t a lot of kneading. There wasn’t a warm water thing with the yeast.

And I’ll do this again.

After 30 years and God knows how many doorstops I’ve made, the curse is broken.

Thank God for Rose Levy Berenbaum.

Rose Levy Berenbaum’s Hearth Bread from the back of the Gold Medal Harvest King Bread Flour Bag

3-1/3 cups Harvest King bread flour
¼ cup whole wheat flour
1-½ tsp fine sea salt
1-¼ tsp bread machine yeast
1-1/3 cups water
1 tsp honey
Extra virgin olive oil

Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup, level off with knife. In medium bowl, stir together flours, salt and yeast. Stir in water and honey.

Place dough on silpat and knead til smooth an springy but still slightly sticky. Add a little flour or water as necessary. Lightly brush oil inside of large bowl. Place dough inside bowl and turn to oil all sides. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place about an hour or until dough has doubled in size. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.

Line a cookie sheet with cooking parchment paper or lightly sprinkle with cornmeal. Gently push fist into dough to deflate. Flatten dough and shape into round ball. Place on cookie sheet. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise in warm place for 45 minutes or until dough has doubled in size again.

Place baking stone on lowest rack in oven. Heat oven to 475. Carefully cut an x shaped slash on top of the dough. Spray with cool water. Place cookie sheet in oven on baking stone. Place 1 cup water in shallow pan on another oven rack.

Bake 10 minutes reduce oven temperature to 425. Bake an additional 20 minutes or until bread is golden brown and skewer in center comes out clean.

Cool completely on baking rack. Like this is going to ever happen in this house!

Ideas for things to stir in:
¼ cup of Kalamata olives,
Roasted garlic cloves, cut up sundried tomatoes, sliced chives, shelled sunflower seeds, 1 tsp fresh or ½ tsp dried herbs.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Grilled Pork Chops with Roasted Yellow Pepper Sauce and Black Olive Tapenade

Flush from the success of the Shrimp with Toasted Almonds and Garlic Confit, I continue my experiment in cleaning out the refrigerator. We had some beautiful bone in pork chops that desired a turn on the grill.

It was a wonderful Friday night. Groom mixed some Silver Bullets (shaken, not stirred) to celebrate two more days of work before ten glorious days at the beach and once again I turned to the fridge to decide what to do with those porkers.

I remembered a Bobby Flay recipe from years ago that used roasted yellow pepper sauce with a pork tenderloin, so it stood to reason that this would work beautifully with the chops.

And it did.

Silver Bullets ..love these Martinis!

Fill a shaker with ice and one cup Grey Goose Vodka.
Then 3 capfuls of Bombay Sapphire Gin.
And finally 1 capful Noilly Prat dry vermouth.

Put the top on and shake your groove thing around the kitchen along with the martinis.

Strain into up glasses, plop an oversized green olive in it, and enjoy.
Makes three martinis.

Grilled Bone In Pork Chops with Roasted Yellow Pepper Sauce and Black Olive Tapenade
Adapted from
Bobby Flay’s From My Kitchen to Your Table

Black Olive Tapenade

¼ cup toasted pine nuts
1-¼ cup pitted Nicoise olives
1 tbsp garlic confit (or 4 fat garlic cloves, peeled)
4 anchovy fillets
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Put pine nuts, olives, garlic, anchovies and olive oil in food processor and pulse off and on til thick but not mush. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper.

Makes about 1-½ cups.

Roasted Yellow Pepper Sauce

2 yellow bell peppers, charred, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/3 cup rice vinegar
2 tbsp garlic confit or 5 fat garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
Good pinch Spanish saffron
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp coarse Dijon mustard
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

In blender, combine peppers, vinegar, garlic, saffron, honey and mustard and blend. With motor running slowly add the olive oil until it emulsifies. Season to taste with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Makes about 1-½ cups.

The Chops

2 good sized bone in pork chops, about 1-½ inches thick
1 tbsp sweet Spanish paprika
1 tbsp ground ancho chili powder
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix the spices together and rub on both sides of the pork chops. Grill chops 5-6 minutes per side.

Plate with the Roasted Yellow Pepper Sauce on the bottom, chop and top with a spoonful of the Tapenade.

You will have extra sauce to save and use another time!


Friday, April 25, 2008

Shrimp with Toasted Almonds and Garlic Confit

Vacation is getting closer and therefore dinner at the Red Brick Ranchero has become more of what needs to be used before we leave instead of what do you think about having such and such. And then going to the store to get such and such.

So creativity is at a high point around here. It’s truly a time of standing in front of the fridge and keeping fingers crossed that you have the makings of a wonderful dinner.

I had some garlic confit I had made last weekend thanks to the wonderful blog by Ann called A Chicken in Every Granny Cart.

Garlic confit is one of the easiest things to make and makes a huge difference in the flavor of the foods you are preparing, each time adding a depth of flavor that is you just don’t get with fresh garlic. The flavor is sweeter, smoother, more adult is the best way I can think to describe it. And it works in many dishes.

You can make the confit and use it immediately. An extra bonus is the garlicky olive oil ready to use in salad dressings, or a fast saute of chicken, or drizzled over a gratin before baking.

Or this quick shrimp and toasted almond sauce that is to die for with a bit of Papardelle.

What was I worried about?

Garlic Confit

Remove the tough papery outer skin of the garlic. Leave the thin casing on the cloves.
Place in small saucepan and cover with extra virgin olive oil.

Bring to a simmer and then reduce heat to the lowest setting. Partially cover and let cook about 25-30 minutes or til you can pierce easily with tip of a knife.

Remove cloves to a plate and let cool. Cool the oil as well. Squeeze garlic out of casings into small jar.

Save oil in jar to use as you would regular olive oil.

Keep confit in the refrigerator.
Makes about 1 cup.

Shrimp with Toasted Almonds and Garlic Confit

12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 tbsp garlic confit
2 swirls garlic oil
Good pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
½ cup white wine
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Papardelle , cooked

Heat garlic oil in large heavy skillet over medium high heat and when shimmery cook the shrimp until they turn pink and remove from the pan.

Add white wine and reduce by half. Add garlic confit and red pepper flakes and cook for a minute. Add the shrimp and almonds and stir til combined..

At this point you can add the pasta to the pan and toss.

Season with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve.

Serves 2.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Seriously Chocolate Cupcakes

There are times that call for serious chocolate.

Birthdays, engagements, funerals, Mondays, 4:00 in the afternoon.
The need for serious chocolate must be addressed.

How to address it?

Well, you could go to the grocery store and get some dark chocolate M&Ms and eat them immediately in the car on the way home from the store, that might solve your problem.

You could buy something decadent in the freezer section..gelato or some Ben and Jerry’s.

Or you could make these cupcakes.

I’ll take door number three, Monty.

I was looking for something to do for my mother’s birthday. Cupcakes are all the rage right now and I thought that would be a good thing to do for dessert.

Easy, can be done ahead and seriously chocolate.

I found it.

Flourless. Excellent. More room for chocolate.

This makes a boatload of cupcakes. I made 12 in the muffin tin and poured the rest in a heart shaped silicone pan and made one big heart shaped “cupcake” for the birthday girl.

Who loves you, Nanny!!!!

Seriously Chocolate Cupcakes
Adapted from a Michael Chiarello recipe for Molten Chocolate Cupcakes

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
One good grind of black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon gray salt

Preheat the oven to 300.

Line the cupcake pan with paper liners and spray the liners with vegetable spray. Break up the chocolate and put it into a bowl.

Combine the butter and cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. When the cream mixture comes to a simmer, pour it over the chocolate and stir gently to melt the chocolate.In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, mayonnaise, cornstarch, cinnamon, black pepper and salt just until the sugar has dissolved.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and gently mix just until combined. (Mixing too much will prevent the eggs from rising in the oven.) Scoop about 1/4 cup of the batter into each mold, it should come about 3/4 of the way up the sides.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Do not over bake. Cool the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar.

Makes 12 cupcakes and 1- 8 inch heart shaped cake or probably 24 cupcakes.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Steelhead Trout with Braised Fennel and Sweet Red Onion

I have become a big fan of trout.

I didn’t know that it is a member of the salmon family. Makes sense when you think about it. The sweet buttery taste and the ability to adapt to lots of recipes is most definitely a characteristic of this fish. Steelhead trout starts out as a freshwater fish and moves to life in the ocean at maturity, feeding on tiny shrimp, and coming back to the freshwater after several years to “swim upstream and spawn.”

Interesting tidbit here, they can do this more than once.

I love a fish with a plan.

Perfectly Seared Steelhead Trout Fillets

Preheat oven to 400.

Heat a cast iron skillet on top of the stove. Add a good swirl of extra virgin olive oil.
Put two nice sized fillets of steelhead trout in the pan skin side down.
Cook until skin is crispy, takes about three minutes or so.
Put the pan in the oven for 5-7 minutes til trout is done.

Serves 2.

Braised Fennel with Sweet Red Onion

1 bulb fennel, sliced about ¼ inch thick julienne
½ large sweet red onion, sliced thinly
½ cup plus chicken stock
2 tsp sherry vinegar
Juice of one blood orange
2 tbsp finely diced blood orange zest
A couple of good swirls extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a large cast iron skillet over moderate heat and add a couple of good swirls of extra virgin olive oil. When the oil shimmers, add the red onion and the fennel and let them cook a good while, about ten to fifteen minutes til they are golden and caramelizing. Add the sherry vinegar, the blood orange juice and turn up the heat.

Let that cook down a bit and then add the chicken stock., turn the heat down so the mixture bubbles along, reducing as it goes and add the zest. Season with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serves 2.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Grilled Pork Chops with a Sherry Vinegar, Blood Orange, Harissa, Fresh Mint and Nicoise Olive Sauce

A week or so ago, Claudia of cookeatfret fame posted about a combination of foods that intrigued me. She used pita bread with green olives, goat cheese, dark wildflower honey and harissa and called this The Moroccan Trifecta. I followed her instructions and ate that for lunch.

I didn’t have pita bread, I had semolina.

It didn’t matter. It was spectacular.

We’ve eaten fish a lot in the past few weeks.

I was ready for a pork chop..bone in grilled out. I started thinking about Claudia’s post and the flavors involved and this wonderful sauce is the result, almost a vinaigrette but not quite.

Perfect to drizzle over the grilled pork chops…paired with baked sliced sweet potatoes drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and seasoned with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.

I left out the goat cheese. It didn’t need to be in this.

The name is a bit long.

My picture is not the best.

But the recipe is.

Sherry Vinegar, Blood Orange, Harissa, Fresh Mint and Nicoise Olive Sauce

1/3 cup sherry vinegar, reduced to less than a quarter cup
½ cup pitted sliced Nicoise olives
½ cups fresh mint, chiffonaded…which means rolled up and thinly sliced
2 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp harissa
¼ cup blood orange juice or orange juice
1 tbsp grated zest of blood orange
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine in bowl and set aside.

Oven Baked Sweet Potatoes

Preheat oven to 400.
Cut one large sweet potato in half lengthwise and then cut into thick slices.
Drizzle with olive oil and season with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Probably takes 10-12 minutes if you pay attention!
Cook til golden brown.. flip once.

3 large bone-in pork chops seasoned with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Grill the pork chops 6 per side.

But I must tell you, these were huge porkers.

And yes we ate every bite.

But it was Wednesday.

Serves 3.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Goan Shrimp Curry

It’s been one of those days.

One of those Tuesdays that turns into a Monday that doesn’t stop.

For hours. Plans have to be changed. Lunch is postponed til tomorrow.

Circling buildings waiting to pick up paperwork. All before 10 am. Difficult sellers on loan closing postponing dinner til late.

Coming home. Wanting direction. Not wanting to create your own thing. Want to eat something someone else created.

One pot. One article. NYTIMES March 2008. Goan Shrimp Curry by Suvir Saran and Hemant Mathur, Devi. I didn’t read the article. All I wanted was their food.

Now, I want more.


Look at the picture. I stopped in mid bite and took a pic of dinner.

That tells you something, doesn’t it.

Goan Shrimp Curry
Adapted from Suvir Saran and Hemant Mathur, Devi
March 2008 NYTimes

1 lb 21-25 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Several swirls of extra virgin olive oil
A good shake of crushed red peppers
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 small red onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
3 cups canned chopped tomatoes, with juice
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 14 ounce can coconut milk
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro.

1. Place shrimp in a gallon-size resealable plastic bag, and add 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper and cayenne. Mix well and refrigerate.

2. In a deep skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat, combine oil and chilies and stir 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and cook for 1 minute longer.
Add ginger, onion, 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt and sauté until onion is soft and translucent, 5 to 8 minutes. Add garlic, ground coriander and turmeric and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.

3. Reduce heat to medium-low and add tomatoes. Stir, scraping sides and bottom of pot, for 1 minute. Increase heat to medium-high and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often.

4. Stir in curry powder and cook for 1 minute. Add coconut milk, bring to a boil, and add shrimp. Bring to a simmer and cook until shrimp are opaque, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in cilantro. If desired, serve with rice.

Yield: 2-3 servings.


Braised Carrots with Red Wine and Orange

We’re old movie buffs.

I’ve never really understood the terminology, but that is what we are.
We love them. It was Bette Davis’ 100th birthday and Turner Classic Movies was celebrating this amazing actress all day long. Now Voyager, All About Eve, the perfect movies, familiar enough to be able to read and do other things while watching, stopping to say the famous lines out loud to each other when the time came.

I decided to have Groom grill lamb chops for dinner but I wanted something different than asparagus or potatoes to go with them. I had marked a recipe from Patricia Wells’ Provence Cookbook that braised carrots with onion and tomatoes. Carrots, as you know, just get sweeter as you cook them and these are browned and then braised with tomatoes and onions for an hour. A little fresh mint at the end as a garnish and carrots will take on a new dimension.

Familiar ingredients with a twist.

Braised Carrots with Red Wine and Orange
adapted from Patricia Wells' Provence Cookbook

1 pound carrots, peeled and trimmed
A couple of swirls of extra virgin olive oil
4 fat cloves garlic, peeled and halved
1 large sweet yellow onion, sliced very thinly
½ cup red wine
1 14 oz can san Marzano plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bouquet garni made with l three inch piece of the green part of a leek, celery leaves and fresh thyme tied with twine
2 Clementine oranges, chopped as best you can, rind included (you can use 1 small orange instead of the Clementines, which are very small)
A little freshly chopped mint and Italian parsley

Heat a large cast iron skillet over moderate heat. Add a couple of swirls of extra virgin olive oil. When hot, but not smoking add the carrots.
Season with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook uncovered for twenty minutes, rolling the carrots around so they brown evenly.

Remove carrots from pan. Add the onions and cook til golden brown. Then add the remaining ingredients and put the carrots back in the pan on top of the onion mixture. Cover and cook on low for one hour, check on it to be sure the braising mixture does not burn. You can add a bit more wine as you go, if the mixture becomes too dry.

Remove bouquet garni and serve sprinkled with fresh mint and Italian parsley.

Serves 3 generously. Goes wonderfully with lamb chops!


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Spanish Chicken done with Grace and Style

Stop the presses!

This recipe is simply amazing.

And easy.

I know, I know, I say that about all my recipes.

But it’s true.

Anyway, the easy part comes from knowing basic skills in the kitchen and not freaking out when a recipe has you do something you’ve never done.
And also it comes from the ability to react quickly when you do something you weren’t supposed to do in a recipe.

And that you do it all with a sense of grace and style as opposed to shrieking at the top of your lungs and using lots of words that normally would come out of the mouth of a sailor, as my mother so eloquently puts it.

You don’t expect flames when you add vermouth to drippings and shallots, do you. Unless the recipe tells you to do this, right? Well, you should if you get over enthused about what you’re doing and decide you’re related to Julia Child and swirl the pan so the liquid sloshes out and all of a sudden you’re flaming the shallot/white wine mix.

And a wooden pepper mill.

But I digress.

The ease of cooking is also demonstrated by the ability to stay on task.

Deciding it’s time to water the gardenia that has been wintering in the guest bathroom because you have two minutes until dinner is done and the last time you watered it was in February is not really staying on task, now is it?

A glass of your favorite wine helps with the sense of grace and style you demonstrate because you are relaxed, creating an incredible meal for the man you love after you put out the flaming peppermill.

The result of this graceful concentration on the task at hand?

A meal that blows your mind.

One bite and you’re transported to the coast of Spain, lounging on the beach, waiting for Cabana Groom to bring you a glass of fabulous Spanish red wine and you are the cutest thing on that beach, the sound of the ocean in your ears.

Another bite, you’re back at the Red Brick Ranchero, smoking peppermill on one side and on the other is Groom, smiling and saying, I don’t know how you make it all look so easy.

A comment you hear as you race back to the guest bath to turn the ocean off.

You see?

Grace and style.

Spanish Chicken done with Grace and Style

4 bone in chicken thighs, skin on
2 links chorizo sausage, pierced in several places
4 fat garlic cloves, sliced thinly
1 large shallot, minced
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 15 ounce can plum tomatoes
½ cup chicken stock
2 red bell peppers, cored seeded and sliced thinly in strips
About a tbsp chopped fresh thyme
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley

Heat a bit of extra virgin olive oil in a skillet. Add the two pierced links of chorizo and let cook til brown. This will take about 15 minutes.

Remove the chorizo and slice diagonally. Add the chicken to the skillet and season with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook til golden and remove from pan.

Add shallots to pan and dry white wine…cook quietly til its reduced by half and add the tomatoes, garlic, red peppers, thyme. Cook 15 minutes. Add the chicken stock. Cook five minutes. Add the chicken back to the pan and cook 35 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the pan and add the chorizo and cook about five more minutes. Sauce should be pretty thick by now. Plate with a chicken thigh and sauce over. You could garnish with Italian parsley if you remember.

Serve with lots of crusty bread.

Serves 4.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Pan Fried Rainbow Trout Fillets with Pancetta and a Zucchini Tian

Total déjà vu.

Once again I’m standing in the kitchen with pig(pancetta) in one hand and fish (fresh rainbow trout) in the other and the pig and fish thing takes charge.

I turn around and there’s a zucchini, a potato and a couple of tomatoes and garlic cloves sitting there looking at me on the counter top.

My brain starts working and the games begin.

This turned out even better than I thought it would.

I got out my handy dandy mandolin and sliced the potatoes, tomatoes and garlic and zucchini. I stood them up in the individual gratins in layers and drizzled with olive oil, seasoned at the last with lots of freshly ground black pepper. They went into the oven for 35 minutes. In the meantime, I crisped the pancetta and removed it to a platter. The trout is floured and seasoned and cooks in the fat the pancetta released. Trout removed, Meyer lemon and capers added off the heat.

She shoots.

She scores.

Pan Fried Rainbow Trout with Zucchini Tian

Preheat oven to 400.

1 small zucchini
1 baking potato
3 small tomatoes
2 fat cloves garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Slice the zucchini, baking potato, garlic and tomatoes very thin. Put a little bit of extra virgin olive oil in baking dish ( I did these individually, but it would certainly work just fine in a 8x8 pyrex dish). Start with potatoes, and take 4-5 pieces and stand them up, the sprinkle a bit of garlic, then a couple of sliced tomatoes, then garlic, then a bit of zucchini, then garlic and repeat til you use up all the veggies. Drizzle with olive oil, season with the black pepper and run in the oven. They cook about 35 minutes.

2 rainbow trout fillets
2 ounces pancetta, diced
Extra virgin olive oil
A cup of all purpose flour seasoned well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
1 tbsp capers, drained
1 Meyer lemon

Heat large cast iron skillet and put a good swirl of extra virgin olive oil in the pan over moderate heat. Add pancetta and cook til crisp. Remove from pan . Dredge trout in flour mix on both sides and put in hot skillet. Cook on both sides til golden brown. Remove trout from pan and remove pan from heat.

Add capers and lemon juice and stir to combine.
Plate trout and put caper lemon sauce over and garnish with pancetta. Serve tian on the side.

Serves 2.


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Grilled Lamb Patties with Red Peppers, Nicoise Olives and Creme Fraiche

Okay. Here’s the deal.

There are times that certain flavors are what I want to eat. There are times that I know I want these flavors but don’t have a clue what those flavors are going to end up in. Sometimes the flavors and ingredients are the same, but the whole recipe is totally different.

A month or so ago, I did an incredible recipe for Merguez, a lamb sausage. The sausages were fried/sautéed on top of the stove and served on top of couscous with fresh spinach. They were amazing, if I do say so myself.

I wanted to do something again with the flavors of the Merguez, but in a different presentation. I wanted to add Nicoise olives, and red bell peppers and I wanted to grill the ground lamb that had been highly seasoned and this time had bread crumbs, lots of fresh cilantro, garlic and sweet red onion added and have more of it to eat than just a small sausage.

So, I did.

To top off the grilled lamb patties, I did an adapted version of a fabulous recipe of Perla Meyers that uses sautéed red bell peppers, garlic, and crème fraiche with the addition of the Nicoise olives, fresh cilantro and toasted pine nuts.

It worked.

Grilled Lamb Patties

3 garlic cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon paprika (sweet)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro
1 lb ground lamb
1 cup fresh soft bread crumbs
¼ small red onion, grated

Combine and form into small oval patties.

Grill for 4-5 minutes per side.

Makes 8 patties.

Plate the patties, then put the pepper sauce over. Garnish with the Nicoise olives and the fresh cilantro.

Serves 3-4.

Red Bell Peppers with Garlic, Black Olives and Crème Fraiche
with inspiration from Perla Meyers

1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
A couple of swirls of extra virgin olive oil
2 fat garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
2 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into julienne
1/3 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp crème fraiche
1/3 cup pitted Nicoise olives
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat a large cast iron skillet on top of the stove. Add a couple of swirls of extra virgin olive oil. When hot but not smoking, add garlic and moderate the heat so garlic doesn’t burn. When you can really smell the garlic, add the red bell pepper and cook them until they start to soften.

Add the chicken stock and stir over moderately high heat until almost all the liquid is gone. Then add the crème fraiche.

Turn the heat down just a little and stir til the peppers absorb the crème fraiche. Add the pine nuts. This would be just as wonderful with rack of lamb or chops grilled to perfection!

Serves 3 -4.


Monday, April 7, 2008

Artichoke Heart and Toasted Pine Nut Salsa on the Perfect Salmon Fillet

I’ve branched out.

I managed to prepare a seafood dish without the pig.

It was difficult. Prosciutto would be absolutely divine in this salsa , but I didn’t do it.

Howsomuchever… this artichoke heart, red bell pepper, Nicoise olive, toasted pine nut salsa for salmon ROCKS!!! It's an old recipe heartily adapted from the Food Network.


It’s amazing stuff. It’s good in a spoon, on a Tostito..it is divine.

Throw in some tuna canned in olive oil (truly the only kind of canned tuna to eat) and call it lunch.
Add cannelini beans and call it bruschetta.

Make it your own.

It is a portent of things to come this summer and I, for one, cannot wait.

Artichoke Hearts and Toasted Pine Nut Salsa

1 6 ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
1 fat garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp capers
2 tbsp chopped sun dried tomatoes in olive oil
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
1/3 cup Nicoise olives, pitted and chopped coarsely
Freshly ground black pepper
About ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley

Combine all of this , mix well and season.
Makes about 1-½ cups.

Perfectly Seared Salmon
adapted from Michael Fennely
Preheat oven to 400.

Heat a cast iron skillet on top of the stove. Add a good swirl of extra virgin olive oil.
Put two nice sized fillets of wild salmon in the pan skin side down.

Cook until skin is crispy, takes about three minutes or so.

Put the pan in the oven for 5-7 minutes til salmon is done.

Top with salsa and wait for applause.

Serves 2.


Sunday, April 6, 2008

Pots de Creme au Chocolat

Simple. Easy. Deadly. Divine.

All in one dessert.

Make this one when you want to impress, shock, and/or seduce.

Candlelight required.

Enough said.

Pots de Crème au Chocolat

1- 4 ounce bar bittersweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
1 cup heavy cream
3 egg yolks
Splash Grand Marnier

Put chocolate and cream in small heavy saucepan. Heat, stirring, until chocolate melts and starts to boil.

Reduce heat to simmer, and cook, stirring for three minutes exactly. Remove from heat.

Put egg yolks in bowl.

Take small whisk and dip into chocolate then whisk the eggs. Do this several times to warm the egg yolks. Then add chocolate cream mixture in thin stream, beating eggs the entire time. Splash a bit of Grand Marnier into the chocolate and stir.
Pour into four 3-ounce pot de crème pots, or espresso cups. Let cool. Then you can put the tops on the pots, or cover with plastic wrap.
Chill til you’re ready to impress, shock and/or seduce.

Makes 4 servings.


Friday, April 4, 2008

Grilled Scallops with Prosciutto, Leeks and Red Pepper

I’ve got seafood on the brain.

It could be that vacation is coming up very soon and I’m practicing all the recipes I want to do at the beach. Or it could be that all the rain that’s falling in Tennessee is reminding me of the ocean.

Or it just could be that we love seafood.

So, okay. Clams one night. Scallops the next.

That’s cool.

Then again, I am quite fond of the pig.

It could be all that pork belly floating around the blog world these days that’s got me much more into Porky than ever before. I haven’t tried the belly yet, but it’s on my to do list.

Chorizo one night . Prosciutto the next.

I’m seeing a pattern here.

And when the pig and seafood get together it’s a marriage made in heaven. Two nights in a row.

Grilling scallops was the plan tonight, but rain changed the outdoor action, so the handy dandy grill pan came to the rescue.

Prosciutto is crisped to perfection to be used as a garnish for the grilled scallops. Garlicky leek and red bell pepper saute on top of buttery spinach as a base for the sweet seafood.

Surf and turf takes on a new meaning.

Maybe I’ll do salmon and pancetta tomorrow…hmmmm….

Grilled Scallops with Crispy Prosciutto, Leeks and Red Pepper

6 large sea scallops
4 fat cloves garlic, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, diced
2 leeks, cleaned, light green to white parts only, diced
About a pound of fresh spinach, cleaned
¼ lb prosciutto, diced
1 tbsp butter
A couple of good swirls extra virgin olive oil

Heat a cast iron skillet and add a couple of good swirls of extra virgin olive oil. Add prosciutto and cook about 8-10 minutes til crispy. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Add leeks to the pan and saute five minutes, then the red bell pepper and garlic. Cook ten minutes until very soft and golden. Remove from pan and season with coarsely ground black pepper.

Grill scallops about 4 minutes per side depending on how big they are. While scallops are cooking, cook spinach. Put rinsed spinach in a hot skillet and cover for five minutes, remove the top and cook til wilted and water evaporates. When done add the tbsp of butter.

Plate with the spinach on the bottom, the leek and pepper mix on top of that finishing with three scallops per person. Sprinkle prosciutto over all and serve.

Serves 2 generously.


Thursday, April 3, 2008

Linguini with Clams, Fennel and Chorizo

Sometimes, an ingredient will pop into my head and for the rest of the day I’m thinking about what to do with said ingredient. It can happen most any time during the day.

This morning, I woke up thinking about clams.

I thought about clams all day long. I thought about fried clams, white clam sauce, red clam sauce, clams with potatoes, clam chowder, Clams Casino, clams steamed open in a savory broth. I felt like that guy in Forrest Gump that could recite every single shrimp recipe.

Driving home, I remember the chorizo in the fridge, not Groom’s homemade version as we finished the latest batch last week, but some from Niman Ranch so the chorizo is not slacking in the taste department. Sweet bell pepper and fennel that needed a home would be fabulous with the clams.

I could have gone to the store and gotten fresh clams, but I haven’t had the best of luck with those. One of these days I’ll grow up and give them another try, but for now, the cans would work fine for the clam sauce that was percolating in my head.

And such a fine clam sauce it is. Totally different from any I’ve had before. Sweet, spicy with a touch of heat from the chorizo.

A bit of this for dinner, a good night’s sleep and I’m ready for the next ingredient.

Linguini with Clams, Fennel and Chorizo

2 links chorizo sausage, remove the casing and crumble as best you can
(or use homemade chorizo and get enough for a scant ¾ cup of cooked sausage)
Couple of swirls of extra virgin olive oil
1 fennel bulb, diced (save a nice piece of the fennel fronds)
1 sweet yellow onion, diced
1 small red bell pepper, diced
2 cans clams, drained reserve juice
4 fat cloves of garlic, chopped
1 good sized tsp fennel seeds
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat a couple of good swirls of extra virgin olive oil in cast iron skillet. When hot but not smoking add chorizo and cook til nice and browned and releases the fat. Remove from the skillet.

Add the fennel, onion, red bell pepper and cook about 10 minutes til golden, then add the garlic and cook another ten minutes.

Heat water for pasta and start that process.

Add clam juice to skillet and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and add the clams.
When pasta is done, add a ladle of pasta water to skillet and drain the pasta. Add pasta to skillet, combine well and cover and let sit for five minutes. Add the fresh fennel and serve.

Serves 3 generously.